We could easily summarise the experience like so: ‘Pack our bags, send them over, we are moving in permanently’. And to do so would, quite honestly, summarise the experience on point. However, it would be ill-mannered and a little selfish of us not to elaborate on our thoughts of the newly opened Bert’s Bar and Brasserie. It’s the whole dilemma of discovering that amazing new space that you want to rush out and tell everyone about, but at the same time selfishly keep all to yourself.
Who are we kidding? The success of the creative Merivale Group and all their amazing venues is no secret to Sydney-siders. As they have grown and flourished over the years, we have enjoyed their myriad of venues with an after-work drink, a celebratory dinner, or a long lazy lunch that creeps into the evening, and occasionally into the wee hours of the morning. Clearly and consistently excelling at what they do, it should not have come as a surprise that our experience at Bert’s was as delightful as it was. Yet, it still was a surprise.
On entry, the vision of interior beauty is overwhelming in a simultaneously comforting and calming fashion. Reminiscent of an elegant coastal European hotel, there is an immediate sense that you could call this place home forever, and lull away the rest of your days in this beautiful haven. A stark contrast in ambience and energy to the hustle and bustle of The Newport downstairs, Bert’s is a soothing and relaxing place of calm.
It’s not until you ease yourself into the comfort of the beautifully floral upholstered lounges in the elegantly shaped semicircular bar area that you can truly immerse yourself in this elegant space of class and sophistication, and take in every detail. Refined elegance is probably the best way we would describe these immaculate interiors. The beautifully hued tones of green flicker throughout the space, from the fabric upholstery on the couches, to the beautiful marble bar top, through to the greening hydrangeas adorning the carefully positioned vases. The use of cream and natural colours, light wooden flooring and textured thatched ceilings is beautiful, as are the accents of gold throughout.
The attention to interior detail is impeccable, and the thought that has gone into the seamless fit out is very noticeable. Everything has its place, and looks as though it has been effortlessly positioned. These are the sorts of interiors that lifestyle magazines crave to photograph and feature.
The light pouring through the painted wooden windows trimmed with period golden handles is partly responsible for creating that sense of calm as you sip your drink, as is the burst of light that floods through the glass panels over the bar. It is the perfect setting to enjoy the sweeping views of the Pittwater estuary.
With the stress and worries of everyday life already hung up by the front door, the only dilemma that faced us was what splendid beverages to sip on. The beverage list is comprehensive, with an excellent selection of cocktails and an extensive wine collection. We worked our way through a few beverages with ease. Our favourite would have to have been our starting beverage, the wine spritzer, which comes garnished with the native Australian herb, saltbush. (Don’t just leave the garnish floating in the glass. Eat every mouthful of it, it’s delicate saltiness is beautiful.)
Our beverages were perfectly complemented by some elegant light snacks from the bar menu. The crumbed prawn and lettuce sandwich may sound simple, however the thought that had gone into its preparation was obvious. The prawn was perfectly cooked and plump, with a light crumbing exterior, the lettuce carefully thinly and evenly sliced, with a gentle hint of chilli. The cheese on our cheese plate was oozing at perfect room temperature, and came accompanied by a beautifully sweetened apricot half, and generously salted crispy flaky wafers.
The attention to detail when it comes to service is equally as impressive as the attention that has gone into the interiors. The little details are everywhere to be found and there are traces of yesteryear and old-world charm that pleasantly pop up; the shiny little silver trays our prawn sandwiches were served on, the crystal cut cocktail mixing jars, the perfectly pressed and colour matched napery, to mention just a few.
Everything runs smoothly and seamlessly at Bert’s, and that is testament to the very capable staff that so eloquently work the floor. Elegantly dressed, with pure professionalism and unforced smiles, the staff are sophisticated in an unpretentious and friendly manner. Every question was speedily answered, every one of our requests met efficiently and effortlessly. This is perfection at its best, faultless in every way. Bert’s, you are truly impressive. Merivale, this is your best one yet.
It is only because the airy, light filled room began to change from brightly lit to the more subtly lit tones of an emerging sunset, that it crossed our minds to look at the time. While it felt like time had stood still, it was with surprise that we realised five hours had so easily slipped us by. It was with a sense of sadness that we started to think about the notion of heading home. The idea of stretching the day out a little longer and moving into the dining room for an early dinner was an appealing option. However we decided to leave something to look forward to in our next session of overindulgence. As we struggled to pull ourselves away from the perfectly comfortable couches, we scanned our newly found sanctuary for one last time that afternoon and thought… this is not goodbye Bert, but rather ‘until next time’.
Food photography, story and recipe creation by Effi Tsoukatos & Caterina Sterrantino for the Sydney Food Sisters